U.S. Passport Processing Times Are On the Rise
Published by FareCompare on March 13, 2023
Have you just booked an all-out holiday somewhere abroad for the coming spring and summer months, only to realize you need to renew your passport? Don't drag your feet, because U.S. passport processing times are on the rise – and show no signs of stopping.
Unfortunately, it now is taking between and eight and 11 weeks for routine service, and five to seven for expedited service.
Updated Passport Processing Times: What You Need to Know
As of this month, U.S. passport turnaround times are up – and almost double. In the past, the approximate times were between six and nine weeks for routine service and just three to five weeks for expedited service.
State Department officials have signaled the continued rise in Americans traveling abroad as the main driver for passport demand. If current trends remain on track, it's thought that more passports will be issued in 2023 than in 2022, which was also a banner year.
U.S. citizens who need to renew their passports are encouraged to give themselves plenty of extra time for processing to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
While this isn't necessarily a new issue, per se, the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the processing times for U.S. passports as the backlog grew and above average wait times overwhelmed agency services nationwide and across the globe. Some of the principally affected services were the four Trusted Traveler programs run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB): Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, Nexus, and Sentri.
But how are you expected to calculate the time to process your U.S. passport? The time frame begins the day that the State Department receives your application, not the day you submit said application, whether online or via mail. Remember that mailing times and delays and add additional weeks to the overall time it takes for you to receive your passport.
To make things more complicated, there have been some technological issues impacting processing times. While applicants should be able to track their status online, bugs in the software have made it more difficult to follow the process in real-time. Travelers experiencing this are encouraged to contact the State Department by phone at 855-865-7750 or via email to PPTOPR@state.gov.
If You Need Special Passport Assistance
The State Department offers travelers two types of special appointments for urgent international travel, which allow for the potential to secure an in-person appointment. Note that these appointments can only be made via phone.
- Emergency circumstances — such as a death — requiring travel within 72 hours or three business days. You must provide proof of a qualifying incident.
- Nonemergency travel within 14 days or if you need a foreign visa within 28 calendar days. Proof of travel is required.
Starting in April 2023, U.S. citizens should be able to renew their passports online if they meet certain conditions. Even so, processing times are similar to those for applications made in person or via mail.